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House Calls: A lot to think about in right of survivorship

Wording of deed decides house's fate

Q: Can you settle a debate? My friend and her adult daughter purchased a home together. If my friend passes, I say the house goes to her daughter. My friend thinks her other two sons can claim her half of the home. Who is right?

A: Either one could be right. The deed by which they purchased the home contains wording that would answer the question. If the deed says the new owners are "Mrs. A and Miss A, joint tenants" or "joint tenants with right of survivorship," then when one dies, the other automatically becomes the complete owner.

On the other hand, if the deed says the house is now owned by "Mrs. A and Miss A as tenants in common" or simply by "Mrs. A and Miss A" with no further wording, then when one dies that person's share goes to heirs named in a will. If there is no will, the state determines who owns that half.

A lot to think about in deal with nephew

Q: I own a home in another state, which I acquired after my father's passing. He lived in the VA hospital a few years before his death. My nephew moved into the house. He wants to stay there, but I doubt he will qualify for a bank mortgage.

I'd like to work out an agreement with my nephew to pay me back in a 20-year time frame by sending monthly mortgage payments. I may charge him an interest rate of 1 percent or so.

I want a written and notarized document safeguarding me in the case of my nephew's default on the loan. Could an attorney write something like this for me?

Have you heard of a plan like this? What do you think of it?

A: You don't tell me anything about your nephew's income, credit rating or bill-paying record. Why wouldn't a bank lend him the money? Investigate before you work out a payment plan.

If you decide to go ahead, then yes, your lawyer and probably another lawyer located near the house can draw up the mortgage papers and see that they're entered in that county's public records. Your lawyer can also give you advice about a low-interest mortgage, which may involve income tax complications.

But if your nephew couldn't keep up and defaulted on the loan, or got behind on property taxes, would you really want to foreclose and put him out? You'll have to decide that for yourself.

Determining open listing commission

Q: I have a question about open listings. Let's say two brokers have an open listing on a property. The first broker showed the property to a prospective buyer, but the buyer decided not to buy. Later, the second broker calls up the prospective buyer and arranges a sale. Who would receive commission from the seller? The broker who tried but failed or the one who called up the buyer for a second shot?

A: In the case of open listings, the whole commission is supposed to go to the agent who sells the property. Disputes do come up. Often, it depends on whether the purchaser was legally "abandoned" by the first agent.

Edith Lank will respond to questions sent to her at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester, NY 14620 (please include a stamped return envelope), or readers may e-mail her at [email protected]

House Calls: A lot to think about in right of survivorship 06/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 17, 2010 5:03pm]
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